About to jump into a new writing project, I find myself developing brand new characters, and I realize I haven’t really done this in a while. I’ve been working on one large writing project for a long time and have grown very comfortable and familiar with my main characters. Yes, there are new characters that enter the scene from time to time and have their roles to play, but the main characters remain constant. They grow and change along the way, but I see them so clearly. While there is a lot to creating any character, there’s something about creating a new main character and the world around them, seeing them begin to take shape and take on a life of their own. Beginning hazy, you start to see their faces, their bodies, their mannerisms. Their passions, views, and the way they look at and interact with the world take shape. You see their relationships and the way they connect with people, and how these interactions make them feel. I find it a fun and exciting process.
I’m sitting in the parking lot at the grocery store watching a senior couple load their purchases into their antique car. A refurbished red dodge convertible.
Something makes me relax and decide to watch them. I’m sucked into the scene when I notice that this couple is different than the usual parking lot shoppers, the ones who have just gone in for a few things and have a bag or two to throw in the front seat, or the ones in high gear trying to get the shopping task done as fast as they can.
It has taken them ages to organize the mechanics of this task, he’s opened the trunk, and packing it properly is obviously important – like they’re going on a long trip -a combination of bags and a case of G2, his wife is waiting, gazing at the sky with a smile on her face, holding loose bags of munchies to pass to him when he’s ready. He packs those and she takes trays of baking from the cart and stands there waiting again.
The Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines home as “one’s place of residence” but also as “a place of origin”, which are often two very different places. If this is the case, where truly is home? The concept of home is a familiar theme in many stories. Characters often need to return home for one reason or another. Perhaps to take care of a loved one, or because of a death. Sometimes it is to find their way home during a long adventure, or even to fight an evil murderous clown. Over the years I have left and returned to the Owen Sound area for various reasons, though thankfully none of them was ever an evil clown.
Openings of short stories are actually my favourite parts to write. That’s when I am most inspired to capture a potentially great idea and create the story I envision. But this writer cannot resist spending way too much time honing the first few paragraphs, thereby losing focus and enthusiasm to complete what I’ve started.
Thus, a stack of ‘beginnings’ has been growing considerably over several years, but endings? Not so much. Recently a short story writing contest inspired me to sift through the files and choose a story to finish and submit. [Read more…]
Yes! I am no longer a virgin!
I will have to say, Saturday was one of the scariest moments of my life. Entering a room full of about sixty people, armed with six copies of 10 pages of my own original writing, about to hand it over for semi-strangers to read and give their analyzed comments and criticism to me. They don’t just write down their comments on your manuscript – NO – these cringeworthy words are said OUT LOUD for ALL to hear. Okay, not everyone in the room is listening, thank goodness, just the six people at my table and any eavesdroppers who were lurking (yes, I was even worried about eavesdroppers).
So, what’s the big deal? They read it, they comment on it and you go home, right? WRONG. [Read more…]
My inspired artist friend; a lover of all things creative, recently sent me a calligraphy set. She is working hard to preserve the wonderful but dwindling art of letter writing. For a couple of years now she’s been perfecting calligraphy-style handwriting and trying to inspire me to do the same. Cards and notes from her are little works of art, often including water colour touches, photographic watermark images and envelops closed with personalized wax seals.
A beautiful, decorative box held everything to get me started; three fountain pens: each with a different sized nib, instructions for basic strokes and common scripts, lined practice sheets and even a tiny pointed sable brush for filling in large letters.
Being a writer is sometimes difficult. There are times when you sit at your writing desk and stare at your screen. No typing; just staring. The white blank page becomes a dark scary place with an evil black cursor blinking back at you, daring you to write something worth reading. It’s like being stuck on a raft in the middle of the ocean, with no paddles, hungry sharks are circling and no matter where your eyes focus, you see nothing. No land. No help. No words. Your inner voice is stalled. The fear envelopes you. You can’t think and you can’t write. Not one single word. And, if by some miracle you find it in yourself to write a sentence or two, five minutes later you are hitting the delete button. You are right back at the beginning: the blank screen, with criticizing readers circling, waiting to attack you with negative feedback. This is when you think about giving up. It would be so much easier. Maybe, you weren’t meant to be a writer?
And then, something like this happens…
The beautiful day beckoned us to the water and the boat. November on Rainy Lake is usually blustery or foggy but this crisp, sunny morning was perfect for a run to Fawn and John’s cabin. It felt like the four of us had the lake to ourselves, not another soul did we see.
Unencumbered with luggage and supplies, we cruised swiftly over the waves, our coffee thermos and wine bottles sitting alongside John’s portable oxygen tank. It was to be a brief trip; just long enough to relax on the deck for a few hours and pick up guitars that shouldn’t be left there for the winter.
Picking up the guitars was a good excuse to take one more trip; to bask in the familiar comfort of best friends and let the ritual of heading up the lake mark the beginning of our goodbye to John. Because what we all knew but no one said was that, short of a miracle, this would be the last time all four of us would be together.